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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

In May the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded that the Costco Wholesale Corporation may have committed religious discrimination by firing Kimberly M. Cloutier, 27, for refusing to stop wearing an eyebrow ring at work; Cloutier is one of the roughly 450 members claimed by the Oregon-based Church of Body Modification, which holds that piercings and tattoos "are essential to our spiritual salvation." Emboldened by the EEOC ruling, Cloutier, of West Springfield, Massachusetts, filed a $2 million lawsuit against Costco for not accommodating her religious practice.

In October in Modesto, California, Kelli Pratt, 45, was arrested after she allegedly held down her 65-year-old husband and bit him over 20 times, tearing out chunks of flesh, because he was too ill and tired to have sex with her; infections in the wounds killed him six days later. Pratt suffers from multiple sclerosis and sometimes uses a wheelchair; her husband had been in the hospital for diabetes a week before the attack. According to an officer who was present when Pratt was videotaped in custody, "She refused to wash up, so she basically looks like a vampire with blood all over her face and teeth."

The Litigious Society

In August 19-year-old Cherise Mosley sued the Aaron Family Planning Clinic in Houston, seeking damages for an abortion it provided her when she was 17. Mosley admits she used a fake ID to persuade the clinic she was over 18, specifically because she did not want her parents notified. But she now regrets the abortion and claims the clinic should have realized she was lying and contacted her family; she believes her parents would have offered to help her keep the child.

Questionable Judgments

In September prosecutors in Toronto dropped public nudity charges against seven men who marched naked in a gay pride parade, concluding that it would be impossible to prove indecency under the law because the men were wearing shoes. And one day later the Washington State supreme court dismissed charges against two men who had been convicted of shooting "upskirt" photos and videos of women in public spaces, ruling that the state voyeurism law does not apply unless victims are filmed in a place where they have a "reasonable expectation of privacy."

People Different From Us

In October in Albuquerque, Linda Henning, 48, was convicted of murder for acting as an accomplice to the charismatic Diazien Hossencofft in the killing of his wife. Hossencofft, who was involved with at least two other women besides Henning, had claimed at various times to be an alien, a doctor with a cure for cancer, and an immortal creature already 2,000 years old. Under Hossencofft's influence Henning came to believe that reptilian aliens were poised to take over the world using cryogenic pods (and that George W. Bush is a full-fledged reptilian who maintains a human appearance with holograms). Hossencofft has since admitted to his fabrications, but Henning apparently continues to subscribe to his "philosophy."

Update

In 1989 News of the Weird reported on the annual Gotmaar festival in India, which takes place in the neighboring villages of Pandhurna and Sawargaon: the day after the first full moon in September, in what's believed to be a symbolic reenactment of an event from antiquity, the men of the two villages gather along the river that separates them and fight for a tree branch, collecting river stones and throwing them at one another. (At sunset they stop, nurse the wounded, and return to normal life.) In modern times the festival has become increasingly violent, but participants still ignore bans on alcohol and refuse to use the less dangerous rubber balls provided by local authorities; this year 550 people were injured, some seriously.

Brief Thrills

In September in Saginaw, Michigan, 60-year-old Jim Zimmerman bought a Harley-Davidson to address what he called a "mid-age crisis," even though he hadn't been on a bike in 30 years; ten seconds into his first ride, he hit a utility trailer and broke several ribs. His insurance covered repairs to the bike, which he promptly sold for an $800 loss.

In the Last Month

Researchers writing in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine reported that covering a wart with duct tape for six days at a time works better than the standard freezing treatment....German engineer Matthias Knigge said he has built a desk with an air bag, for office workers in need of a quick nap....And in Marietta, Georgia, a cattle truck crashed, killing nine cows (and the driver) and injuring four others so badly they had to be euthanized; the sixteen surviving animals were loaded onto another truck and continued on to the slaughterhouse.

Clarification

In 1993 News of the Weird reported that Morteza Farakesh had been convicted in New York of smuggling morphine. In September of this year Farakesh asked me to inform my readers that his indictment had recently been retroactively dismissed, nullifying the conviction (and sent me an official copy of a judicial order to that effect).

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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